If only all exposure was that good | AspenTimes.com

If only all exposure was that good

An antique wagon sits in front of the Primavera Restaurant as the colorful Main Street of Basalt stands out in the background Saturday. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

Some folks in Basalt wish the town was as easy to find along Highway 82 as it recently was in the pages of The New York Times.The town was the subject of a flattering portrayal in the “Havens” section of the New York Times on Friday, Feb. 11. The article favorably described Basalt as a more laid-back and less expensive alternative to Aspen.Michael Lipkin, a partner in the Willits development, was quoted in the piece by Lois Smith Brady as saying Basalt is attracting the same type of outdoorsy people Aspen lured 20 years ago. (Perhaps he also meant to say that Basalt is attracting many of the exact same people who moved to Aspen 20 years ago.)

While that might be a good thing, depending on perspective, there was this ominous warning: “Basalt is also beginning to attract New Yorkers who don’t want to bump into people from their apartment buildings.” It seems the latest wave of émigrés from New York are picking Basalt to avoid predecessors who located in Aspen.Reticent New Yorkers aside, the report made Basalt out to be a cool place – even if Brady’s timing was a bit off. She made it sound like Basalt “suddenly” became hip this winter with the expansion of Highway 82 to four lanes. Some folks would argue the town was hip 10, 35 or even 100 years ago.Nonetheless, Basalt Town Council members raved about the story when they meet with Basalt Chamber of Commerce Director Liz Phillips last week. They asked how Basalt was lucky enough to land such a glowing piece. When pressed, Phillips disclosed to the board that Brady lives nearby.

Councilwoman Anne Freedman brought up a different type of exposure issue. She said she often skis alone and talks to visitors while riding chairlifts. Often she finds that they have heard of Basalt but aren’t exactly sure where or what it is, she said.Too often, Freedman said, they think Basalt consists only of the odd assortment of convenience businesses and light industrial buildings visible from Highway 82.”They see the Basalt Store and the tire store, but they don’t know there’s a town there,” Freedman said.

As she has consistently insisted for years in office, Freedman said Basalt needs better ways of directing out-of-towners to the charming downtown.Phillips said that’s a tough issue because the Colorado Department of Transportation has restrictions on the type and size of signs that can be placed along its right-of-way. Some relief is coming later this year when a “Basalt Historic Downtown” will be placed at the main intersection into town, Phillips said. But she agreed that exposure continues to be an issue the Basalt tries to improve.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.

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